Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Defense of JCPenney: Too Pretty to do Homework



I know I am supposed to be outraged with JCPenney for "The Shirt" which they pulled from their online store yesterday. I have two little girls. I see the kind of stuff that their friends wear and often shake my head and wonder what their moms were thinking when they agreed to let their daughters dress like dime-a-dance girls. I understand the frustration at seeing girls pushed down a stereotypical path from the time they wear that first pink onesie. I get it, really I do, but I also don't think a tee shirt with a funny saying is going to send my girls on a downward spiral ending with them dropping out of school in favor of beauty queen dreams.


This shirt is targeted squarely at my daughters' age group. I am the mom who might be faced with buying this shirt. Since my kids don't have brothers they probably wouldn't ask for it, but if they did have a brother, and they wanted this shirt, and it was within my carefully honed back-to-school budget, then I would let them take it home.

Am I insane? Am I a horrible mother? Am I caving to the media and corporate evil-doers bent on turning my child into a vapid airhead who cares more about lipstick than grades? I'm sure some people will say yes, but I know myself and I know my girls and nothing could be further from the truth.

I spend a lot of time talking with my kids, really talking, and encouraging them to make positive choices and smart decisions. I teach them to do the right thing, to stand up for themselves and their friends, and to be confident and proud.  I am, afterall, a geek raising two little geek girls.  I have faced no small amount of attitude from people who think I'm odd and surely at some point they will, too. I want them to be certain enough of themselves that what a person (or shirt) says doesn't define their self-worth.

And although I let them make their own decisions as much as possible, I am the Mom so I do steer them when they're headed in the wrong direction. Me. The Mom. Not JCPenney.  I have enough confidence in my kids to know that they won't be swayed by silly sayings on a tee shirt. It might make them laugh, but it won't mark their moral decline.

I don't think anybody, including the folks at JCPenney, believes that girls are too pretty to do their own homework or that they should force their brothers into servitude.  I doubt there are any kids that think so, either.  I would bet though, that there are more than a few girls that hate homework, argue with their brothers, and would like nothing more than to sit and relax while those brothers did their homework. Too pretty? Of course it's ridiculous.  The whole premise is ridiculous which is what makes the shirt funny, not the harbinger of doom for little girls everywhere.

9 comments:

  1. "I spend a lot of time talking with my kids, really talking, and encouraging them to make positive choices and smart decisions."

    Yeah that single paragraph is all I need to know that your kids will most likely end up fine. It's the parenting much more than outside environment... you teach your kids and they can wear whatever vapid phrase they want on their shirts because YOU know you're raising a smart kid.

    In this age of "high sensitivity" I think the main people outraged might be those parents who feel they are failing. It can't be easy to be a parent (I don't have kids) but I certainly can see within a few minutes of meeting a family if the parenting is there or not.

    I don't think this should have been such a big deal when there are FAR many more issues concerning children and parenting out there... you know like letting parents get away with child endangerment and murder... but I don't often speak up because those with children tend to play the "well you don't have kids" card.

    Thanks for taking that leap and saying what needed to be said. And thanks for being an awesome parent ;)

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  2. Thank you for not feeding the ridiculous outrage. And I applaud the way you are raising your kids!

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  3. W00t! Also a mom of 2 geek girls...I loved this post.

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  4. @Cara Thank you so much for such kind words! It is really so tough to do right by your kids. You constantly question what you're doing and if you're doing it right. But I do know that my kids won't be swayed by a silly shirt, and there are far bigger issues than this one for all of us to address.

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  5. It's a goofy shirt, but I'm far more disturbed by the weird trend of skanky clothes for little girls (which seems to be going away, thank goodness.)Although I would love to see a shirt that said "My brother does my homework so I concentrate on nuclear fusion."

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  6. @Beth The skanky clothes are far more bothersome to me, too. I can't see making a first grader look like she's going clubbing.

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  7. It's like worrying about a shirt Lucas has that says "the wookie ate my homework." Not has threatening as one might think...

    I worry about clothes but usually about lack of fabric, like baby thongs and mini skirts. But even then, as a mom, I can choose not to buy it.

    Good article.

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  8. I have issues with jokes about ethics, not so much about sexism. Also concerned this is self-identifying as brainless which could be a sign of low self esteem. Unless my daughter turns out to be brainless and then my answer would be "Yeah, honey, it's totally you..."

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  9. @Sue Bahaha! Good to know you'll be there for her, even if she turns out to be brainless ;)

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